New approaches to the discovery of other planetary systems require very sensitive and stable detection techniques in order to succeed. Two methods in particular, the astrometric and the photometric methods, require this. To begin understanding the problems and limitations of solid state detectors regarding this application, preliminary experiments were performed at the National Bureau of Standards and a low light level detector characterization facility was built. This facility is briefly described, and the results of tests conducted in it are outlined. A breadboard photometer that was used to obtain stellar brightness ratio precision data is described. The design principles of PN and avalanche silicon photodiodes based on low light level measuring circuits are discussed.